Microsoft’s CFO is keeping an eye on gaming now that it does $10 billion in annual revenue

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France, on Thursday, May 24, 2018. 

Marlene Awaad | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France, on Thursday, May 24, 2018.

Stifel on Wednesday published a note saying it has lowered its rating for Facebook shares from “Buy” to “Hold,” saying political and regulatory blowback could restrict how the company operates in the long term.

“Facebook’s management team has created too many adversaries — politicians/ regulators, tech leaders, consumers, and employees — to not experience long-term negative ramifications on its business,” the firm said in a note.

The lower rating comes after a rough year in which Facebook has experienced numerous scandals, a 30-million user data breach, declining and stalling growth in key markets, an executive exodus and its worst stock performance since going public in 2012.

Stifel also published the latest results from an on-going survey of Facebook users.

The results showed 79 percent of those surveyed now believe Facebook’s impact on society is neutral or negative, compared to 73 percent in survey results published by the firm in January. The survey also found that 60 percent of respondents said they rarely or never used Facebook Stories, Marketplace or video, which are some of the company’s key new products.

Stifel said there is no downside to holding Facebook shares, but the firm no longer believes the company’s upside is what it once was.

“We believe Facebook will struggle to return to the company that it once was or that investors expected it to be in the long run,” the note reads. “We prefer Amazon, Alphabet, and Netflix, as U.S.-based mega caps with similar thematic trends and more stable operating environments.”

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Microsoft’s CFO is keeping an eye on gaming now that it does $10 billion in annual revenue

Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood speaks at the annual Microsoft shareholder meeting in Bellevue, Wash., on Nov. 29, 2017.

Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images
Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood speaks at the annual Microsoft shareholder meeting in Bellevue, Wash., on Nov. 29, 2017.

Microsoft has been in the gaming business since the turn of the century. Finally it matters to the company from a financial standpoint.

“Amy Hood, our CFO, she likes to tell me I’ve made the spreadsheet now, and she says that can be a good thing, and I’m on the spreadsheet. So she’s going to pay attention,” Microsoft’s executive vice president for gaming, Phil Spencer, said on stage at the Barclays Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Today Microsoft is one of the top public companies by market capitalization, alongside Amazon and Apple. Sales of Xbox consoles and online services means Microsoft is less dependent on revenue from other products, like Windows, Office and enterprise software. In its 2018 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, Microsoft surpassed $10 billion in gaming revenue for the first time.

Spencer, who joined Microsoft’s senior leadership team alongside Hood and CEO Satya Nadella last year, pointed to several investments the company has made in gaming recently, building on earlier moves like the $2.5 billion Mojang acquisition. and its purchase of game-streaming company Beam, which has since been rebranded to Mixer.

“We’ve acquired and started seven new first-party studios in the last year. We obviously don’t do that without tremendous support from Satya and Amy,” Spencer said. “We understand content is a critical component of what we’re trying to go build and the support from the company has been tremendous.”

One of Microsoft’s stated growth opportunities in the future is cloud-based gaming, which could make the technical limitations of consumers’ devices less important and expose Microsoft’s gaming content for wider consumption. Spencer talked loosely about its cloud gaming initiative, called, Project xCloud, on Wednesday.

“We focus first on an Android phone because there’s over a billion Android phones on the planet and it’s a place that the content that we’ve natively built up over the past decades on our platform hasn’t been able to reach,” Spencer said.

This strategy builds on Microsoft’s past efforts to bring richer capabilities to Android. But Google, the company behind Android, has started working on cloud gaming with its Project Stream initiative, Spencer said. And meanwhile Amazon, which is the leader of the cloud infrastructure market, has its own gaming division, he said.

“We’ll have multiple business models that will work with streaming, but the connection of streaming with the subscription model makes a ton of sense,” Spencer said. “You see it in music. You see it in video. So you can look at Project xCloud and you can look at something like Game Pass, and you can see there’s natural synergies.”

On stage, Barclays asked Spencer how Microsoft differentiates from gaming subscription offerings from EA and Sony.

“For us, it’s all about how we reach 2 billion gamers,” Spencer said.

“If you build the market around a couple hundred million people that are going to own a game console or a high-end gaming PC, then your business model diversity can actually narrow because your customers are narrow. But when you think about reaching a customer with this content where their only compute device could be an Android phone, you think about, well, what are all the ways that that person pays for content if they do at all today?”

Microsoft will bring its Game Pass subscription service to PCs, and eventually it will be available on every device, Spencer said.

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Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert submits $4.6 billion proposal to save Sears

A man walks by a Sears store.

Andy Clark | Reuters
A man walks by a Sears store.

The fund run by Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert, ESL Investments, submitted a $4.6 billion proposal on Thursday to help save the bankrupt retailer with the purchase of 500 stores.

Sears Holdings, which owns Sears department stores and Kmart, filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 15. In previous court filings, it has said it was in talks with ESL about a “going concern bid” that could help the company emerge from bankruptcy.

The offer outlined Thursday included up to $950 million in cash through an asset-based loan facility, a “credit bid” of $1.8 billion and the assumption of roughly $1.1 billion in liabilities. The liabilities assumed include gift cards, points from its Shop Your Way loyalty program and protection agreements from Sears Home Services. Other funds include additional cash, notes and the rollover of cash collateral.

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Should the offer be approved, it would help about 50,000 of Sears’ 68,000 employees retain their jobs, ESL said. The new company would reinstate the severance program it had in place prior to Sears’ bankruptcy filing, ESL also said.

“ESL Investments continues to believe in Sears Holdings’ immense potential to evolve and operate profitably as a going concern with a new capitalization and organizational structure,” ESL wrote in the letter.

ESL may face other competition in its bid for Sears. A “stalking horse bidder” will be named on Dec. 15 in bankruptcy court. That bidder will set the floor for other potential offers. It could not be immediately determined whether others are looking to buy the company.

The offer itself will not ensure Sears’ survival. ESL will need support from its creditors and approval from the bankruptcy court to proceed with its offer.

The company’s unsecured creditors have already said they would prefer the company liquidate rather than sell to ESL, believing it is more valuable in pieces than as a company under ESL’s ownership.

The use of existing debt to buy a company out of bankruptcy through a so-called credit bid is a controversial practice. Some view credit bids as giving investors who buy a distressed company’s debt at cheap prices an unfair path to ownership.

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Alphabet’s self-driving car business, which just launched a commercial taxi service, could book $114 billion in revenue in 2030, says UBS

Source: Waymo

Waymo’s first commercial pilot may be small, but Wall Street has big projections for the company’s financial future.

Alphabet’s self-driving car unit could book $114 billion in revenue in 2030, according to a base-case estimate from investment bank UBS.

In its self-driving taxi test in the suburbs around Phoenix, Waymo will charge a small number of people fares competitive with rides Lyft and Uber. But as Waymo adds more cars and locations, it could also license its maps and an autonomous vehicle operating system to other service or car-markers, or monetize the eyeballs of riders through entertainment or advertising, UBS analyst Eric Sheridan writes in a note to clients on Thursday.

To put that $114 billion into perspective, Intel released a study in June of last year that projected that the self-driving space would generate $800 billion in cumulative revenue by 2035. UBS’s estimate only included Waymo’s revenue from robotaxi-related services, though Sheridan believes it has opportunities in logistics and commercial delivery as well.

Aside from Waymo, a host of other tech and auto companies are racing to launch their own self-driving taxi services, including GM’s Cruise and Uber. While Waymo’s technology is widely seen as the most advanced, as highlighted by its Wednesday launch, there are still a host of regulatory and safety concerns on the table. Waymo’s pilot will still include safety drivers to supervise rides, for example, at least initially.

Overall, UBS pegs Waymo’s total value between $25 and $135 billion, with a base case valuation of $75 billion. Morgan Stanley valued Waymo at $45 billion in August, with the potential to grow to $175 billion.

[“source=cnbc”]

Alphabet’s self-driving car business, which just launched a commercial taxi service, could book $114 billion in revenue in 2030, says UBS

Source: Waymo

Waymo’s first commercial pilot may be small, but Wall Street has big projections for the company’s financial future.

Alphabet’s self-driving car unit could book $114 billion in revenue in 2030, according to a base-case estimate from investment bank UBS.

In its self-driving taxi test in the suburbs around Phoenix, Waymo will charge a small number of people fares competitive with rides Lyft and Uber. But as Waymo adds more cars and locations, it could also license its maps and an autonomous vehicle operating system to other service or car-markers, or monetize the eyeballs of riders through entertainment or advertising, UBS analyst Eric Sheridan writes in a note to clients on Thursday.

To put that $114 billion into perspective, Intel released a study in June of last year that projected that the self-driving space would generate $800 billion in cumulative revenue by 2035. UBS’s estimate only included Waymo’s revenue from robotaxi-related services, though Sheridan believes it has opportunities in logistics and commercial delivery as well.

Aside from Waymo, a host of other tech and auto companies are racing to launch their own self-driving taxi services, including GM’s Cruise and Uber. While Waymo’s technology is widely seen as the most advanced, as highlighted by its Wednesday launch, there are still a host of regulatory and safety concerns on the table. Waymo’s pilot will still include safety drivers to supervise rides, for example, at least initially.

Overall, UBS pegs Waymo’s total value between $25 and $135 billion, with a base case valuation of $75 billion. Morgan Stanley valued Waymo at $45 billion in August, with the potential to grow to $175 billion.

[“source=cnbc”]

The FAANG stocks shed $140 billion in Tuesday’s market rout

Jeff Bezos

April Greer | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Jeff Bezos

Tech stocks are back in correction territory after a painful day for public exchanges.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index fell nearly 4 percent, with tech stocks like Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook weighing most heavily.

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In total, the so-called FAANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet-owned Google — shed more than $140 billion in market value by the end of the trading Tuesday.

Here’s how it shook out:

  • Facebook fell 2.2 percent, losing $7.6 billion in implied market value
  • Amazon fell 5.9 percent, losing $50.8 billion in implied market value
  • Apple fell 4.4 percent, losing $38.5 billion in implied market value
  • Netflix fell 5.2 percent, losing $6.5 billion in implied market value
  • Alphabet fell 4.8 percent, losing $37.5 billion in implied market value

The losses extend pain periods for Apple, which has seen downturn in recent weeks, and Facebook, which is suffering a down year on the heels of several scandals. Amazon and Netflix, though, are each up more than 40 percent year-to-date despite getting caught in the rout.

With Tuesday’s losses, Alphabet is hanging onto modest year-to-date gains, up just 0.8 percent in 2018.

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Uber’s India business has topped $1.6 billion in annualized bookings

Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Uber Technologies.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Uber Technologies.

Uber has been selling off its local businesses in big emerging markets like China and Southeast Asia. But the company’s India unit isn’t going anywhere.

In an email obtained by CNBC, Uber’s India head Pradeep Parameswaran told company executives, including CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and CFO Nelson Chai, that Uber India reached an annualized bookings rate of $1.64 billion in the third quarter.

Parameswaran wrote that Uber will close the year in its “strongest position ever — as the ride-sharing leader in India.” He said the company doubled its engineering team as of the third quarter and plans to double again next year in its two big hubs of Bangalore and Hyderabad.

India marks Uber’s last stand in Asia. The San Francisco-based company spent billions of dollars building its business across the region, before ultimately consolidating with local players. In 2016, Uber sold off its China operations to Didi Chuxing for a 20 percent stake in its former rival, and in March of this year Uber sold its business in eight countries across Southeast Asia for a 27.5 percent stake in regional leader Grab. Uber also merged its Russian business with Yandex in 2017.

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Uber’s India business has topped $1.6 billion in annualized bookings, according to internal email

Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Uber Technologies.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Uber Technologies.

Uber has been selling off its local businesses in big emerging markets like China and Southeast Asia. But the company’s India unit isn’t going anywhere.

In an email obtained by CNBC, Uber’s India head Pradeep Parameswaran told company executives, including CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and CFO Nelson Chai, that Uber India reached an annualized bookings rate of $1.64 billion in the third quarter.

Parameswaran wrote that Uber will close the year in its “strongest position ever — as the ride-sharing leader in India.” He said the company doubled its engineering team as of the third quarter and plans to double again next year in its two big hubs of Bangalore and Hyderabad.

India marks Uber’s last stand in Asia. The San Francisco-based company spent billions of dollars building its business across the region, before ultimately consolidating with local players. In 2016, Uber sold off its China operations to Didi Chuxing for a 20 percent stake in its former rival, and in March of this year Uber sold its business in eight countries across Southeast Asia for a 27.5 percent stake in regional leader Grab. Uber also merged its Russian business with Yandex in 2017.

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